Coronavirus: South-east Asia

Jakarta may take drastic steps again as cases surge 50%

Governor urges extra caution amid spread of Delta variant; hospitals to increase capacity

A pre-vaccination health screening centre in Jakarta. The Covid-19 testing rate in Indonesia's capital has risen to eight times what the World Health Organisation recommends, from four times in the previous week, says Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan.
A pre-vaccination health screening centre in Jakarta. The Covid-19 testing rate in Indonesia's capital has risen to eight times what the World Health Organisation recommends, from four times in the previous week, says Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan. PHOTO: REUTERS

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has warned that the Indonesian capital may return to strict curbs as coronavirus cases surged 50 per cent in the past week amid a rise of infections of the Delta variant.

Active cases in Jakarta rose to 17,400 on Sunday from 11,500 on June 6.

"The capital is in a state that needs extra attention. If the current situation gets out of hand, we would enter an emergency phase, and if that happens, we would have to take drastic steps like we did in September and February. We do not want that to recur," Mr Anies said in a statement yesterday.

The Delta variant, first detected in India, has started to dominate cases in Indonesian cities including Jakarta and Kudus in Central Java province, a senior government official who did not want to be named told The Straits Times.

Health Ministry spokesman Siti Nadia Tarmizi told ST that the genome sequencing tests on 34 samples collected from Kudus showed that 28 of them were of the Delta variant. She did not elaborate.

The bed occupancy rate for isolation wards in Jakarta, reserved for Covid-19 patients, also increased to 75 per cent on Sunday, from 45 per cent a week ago.

The authorities plan to increase hospital capacity by 40 per cent in the capital, and convert hotels into isolation centres, said Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto yesterday.

One in four Covid-19 patients in Jakarta, however, comes from outside the city, mostly the surrounding satellite towns.

Mr Anies urged residents to comply with health protocols in order to avoid another round of strict social distancing restrictions.

Currently, dining in eateries is allowed but with limited capacity, and non-essential staff are partially required to work from home.

The governor also stressed that the positivity rate - the percentage of people who tested positive - in Jakarta increased to 17 per cent on Sunday, from 9 per cent the previous week.

He added that the testing rate in Jakarta has risen to eight times what the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended, from four times in the previous week.

WHO proposes that at least one in every 1,000 people be tested.

Mr Anies on Sunday ordered his staff to take stricter measures and step up enforcement of health protocols among individuals and in public places.

  • 17,400

    Number of active cases in Jakarta on Sunday.

    11,500

    Number of active cases on June 6.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2021, with the headline Jakarta may take drastic steps again as cases surge 50%. Subscribe